Jakarta (ANTARA) - The ASEAN region witnessed a rise in religious-based intolerance and violence in the past decades, particularly against religious minorities, sects, or local religion, beliefs, and new religious movements.

"The signs of intolerance arise with violations against the right to freedom of religion and belief, either by the State or society when the state is unable to provide protection to victims or prevent intolerance and violence," Representative of Indonesia to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) Yuyun Wahyuningrum noted in a statement received by Antara in Jakarta, Friday.

Wahyuningrum made the statement while opening the AICHR Consultation on the implementation of Article 22 of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration on Freedom of Religion and Belief in Nusa Dua, Bali, Friday.

"Every person has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. All forms of intolerance, discrimination, and incitement of hatred based on religion and beliefs shall be eliminated" is guaranteed by Article 22 of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.

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Freedom of religion and belief is also protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Wahyuningrum remarked that freedom of religion and belief protects every human being’s right to believe and to change his/her religion or belief. It does not protect a religion or belief as such.

Freedom of religion and belief applies to individuals, as right-holders, who may exercise this right either individually or in community with others and in public or private. Its exercise may thus also have a collective aspect.

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"All persons have the right to manifest their religion or belief either individually or in community with others and in public or private in worship, observance, practice and teaching, without fear of intimidation, discrimination, violence or attack," Wahyuningrum remarked.

Freedom of religion or belief is intrinsically linked to freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of association and assembly as well as to other human rights and fundamental freedom, all of which contribute towards the building of pluralistic, tolerant, and democratic societies.

"Expression of a religious or non-religious belief, or of an opinion concerning a religion or belief, is also protected by the right to freedom of opinion and expression enshrined in Article 23 of the ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights and Article 19 of the ICCPR," Wahyuningrum added.

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Reporter: Azis Kurmala
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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